Friends of the Park Spotlight

Celebrating Community, Family, & Diversity at Sara J. González Park

Parks live and breathe, and communities thrive where there are greenspaces and safe spaces for children to play and for communities to come together.”
~ Isabel González Whitaker,
Friends of Sara J. González Memorial Park

Ten years ago, Isabel González Whitaker was looking for a way to honor her mother, Sara J. González, a Cuban immigrant and leader for Georgia’s Hispanic community who had recently passed. Isabel discovered that Coronet Way Park—a park in Northwest Atlanta within walking distance of her mother’s neighborhood—was available for renaming.

The park, shaded by 100-year-old oak trees, was home only to a small, tired playground not fit for use by neighborhood children. Yet, Isabel saw potential; she imagined a new all-abilities playground, a soccer field, and an education nook. She dreamed of a space that would champion inclusivity of cultures, ages, and abilities.

Isabel worked to have the park renamed to Sara J. González Park, the first and only park in Georgia named in honor of a Latino. She formed the Friends of Sara J. González Park and, because she had ambitious plans, joined the Fiscal Partners Program to raise the funds needed to develop the park under Park Pride’s nonprofit status.

In 2017, Park Pride awarded the Friends of the Park group a Legacy Grant, which supported a comprehensive park redesign and several of the amenities of which Isabel dreamt. In total, Isabel and the Friends group have raised over $250,000 to bring their vision to life.

Isabel González Whitaker (second from right) joined by neighborhood families and friends in Sara J. González Park. Photo credit: Isabel González Whitaker

“It was so helpful to have a partner to walk through the forest with me,” Isabel stated. “Park Pride not only gave me the resources, but it also gave me guidance for something I knew nothing about.”

Thank you, Isabel and the Friends of Sara J. González Park, for being champions of inclusive parks and communities!

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